Thrissur: He has been confined to a wheelchair after both his legs were amputated below the knee due to diabetes complications. But that disability does not deter his spirit to wage a determined battle to claim the retirement benefits he is entitled to.
Damodaran Nair, of Naduvilakandi, Sivapuram, near Koyilandy in Kozhikode district, who retired after serving the state for 34 years in 2010, is now battling for his full pension while being forced to work as a roadside vendor far away from his native place.
His pension benefits were affected after he availed leave without pay on medical grounds four years ago in order to undergo amputation.
The sexagenarian was a junior superintendent in the agriculture department when he retired from service, but mounting debts and treatment costs have now pushed him into menial jobs for livelihood.
Medical treatment takes a toll on the already meager earnings of the family. But, unlike the authorities, his friends are compassionate and help the family to remain afloat. Every month they would transfer some amount to his account to ensure that his treatments are not discontinued.
For the past six years, he has been living in Thrissur to undergo treatment at the Medical College Hospital. There too help came through one of his friends, who let Damodaran Nair live in his house.
Damodaran Nair, who is leading life courageously in spite of facing all odds, now ekes out a living by selling vegetables and fruits at a makeshift roadside stall at Nehru Nagar in Kuriachira.
After he defaulted on loan payments, the bankers have warned him of recovery actions such as attachment of his house under construction at his native place. His wife Anitha is living at her ancestral home in Kozhikode.
Chronicle of a struggle
• Damodaran Nair joined the government service as a lower division clerk in the department of agriculture, Kozhikode, in November 1981.
• In 1984, he was promoted as an upper division clerk and transferred to the district agriculture office in Wayanad.
• He went on a long leave without pay between 2001 and 2006 after suffering from diabetic foot. He was also diagnosed with cardiovascular conditions.
• Though he forwarded his request to the director of agriculture through the principal agriculture Officer, Kozhikode, leave was not sanctioned.
• He returned to work as an assistant director at the agriculture office, Vadakara, on February 26, 2006.
• However, no steps to make appropriate adjustments to his leave records or restore increments were initiated.
• Pointing that out, he wrote several letters to agriculture minister and higher-ups in the department, but to no avail.
• In the meantime, he was promoted as head clerk and later as junior superintendent.
• In April 2008, he had his left limb amputated. While undergoing treatment, he retired from service as a junior superintend from the Department of Agriculture, Vikas Bhavan, Thiruvananthpauram.
• In 2010, the right leg too was amputated from knee.
• A nominal amount was sanctioned as monthly pension in 2012. He refused to accept the pension and decided to fight for the retirement benefits that were denied on technical grounds.
• He frequently wrote to government authorities seeking disbursal of five increments, long-pending gratuity arrears, commuted portion of pension, and the other retirement benefits.
• Since 2010, he has been submitting memorandums to ministers and the authorities concerned.
• The family has a loan of Rs 6.5 lakh taken from a bank. He is now desperately looking forward to receive full pension and other retirement benefits so that he would be able to repay the loan and complete the house construction.